Surprising Van Noten show a fashion week highlight
What does Audrey Hepburn have in common with the Pre-Raphaelites?
The answer: They are all part of the myriad of inspirations found on the first full day of Paris’s ready-to-wear shows and fashion’s ever-creative hotchpotch.
Here are the highlights and show reports from Wednesday’s spring-summer 2015 collections.
Dries Van Noten mixed the flowing silks of the Pre-Raphaelites art movement with the bright patterns of Asian clothing for his summer musings.
The result was one of the most vivid and colorful shows he’s yet produced.
Long, loose coats with geometric stripes fused into sumptuous peacock-eye Jacquards that glistened like Renaissance silk in the beam lighting.
Elsewhere, baggy silk pants that looked Burmese and diaphanous showed off the Belgian colorist’s master of the palette: strong gold complemented by pink and dark blue.
As ever, for the designer who cut his teeth in menswear, androgynous elements were to be seen - in the way he did away with the bust, in the flat cut of the jackets and coats.
The program notes rightly described the imaginative collection as “kaleidoscopic.’’
It’s no secret that Van Noten also has green fingers.
The Belgian designer may well be following plans by the new female mayor in Paris to create more parks and grassy areas in response to complaints by Parisians sick of the urban environment.
But as the politicians drag their heels - the 56-year-old took matters into his own hands for his Wednesday show and commissioned a multicolored grassland from visual artist Alexandra Kehayoglou as a runway inside Paris’ Grand Palais.
His curious show invitations even followed the green theme: a clear plastic box with rattling pieces of dry shrubbery inside.
It caused much bemusement as fashion insiders peered into the flora to try and identify their seat number.
The designer has said his passion for gardening comes from his childhood, during which he was forced by his father to work in the garden - when other kids were inside watching TV.
Now, he has a huge and much-loved garden that he tends to himself in his native Belgium, photos of which have been unveiled this year, for the first time, in the catalogues of the exhibit devoted to him at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.
A wind-swept Audrey Hepburn in retro shades and a cleanly cut coat on an East Sussex beach, as captured in an iconic 1951 photo, was one of the inspirations behind Damir Doma’s show.
“I thought of a woman alone on the beach collecting things: driftwood and murano glass,’’ said the Antwerp-trained designer.
Thus, under a chandelier made of wood and glistening crystal, unfussy silhouettes and coats with clean lines that mirrored the Hepburn style greeted guests.
While the devore-effect created ripples in skirts, pants and wide-shouldered coats conjured up images of the wood perhaps found by the Hepburn beachcomber.
Sporty stripes on waists and collars mixed with utilitarian eyelets and straps, to keep up with the times.
But it was a more understated collection than usual.
It was the second outing for new designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua at age-old Rochas.
The house founder Marcel Rochas died in 1955, and, with this, left a sort of frozen-in-time 50s-feel to some of the house DNA.
Dell’Acqua paid homage to this with full silk skirts, peter pan collars and gamine white ankle socks.
But the Italian designer injected a contemporary feel to this collection - by adding a slightly off-kilter vibe to which the house is now strongly associated.
The bar jacket - made famous following World War II - came in a trapeze shape and waists were strapped abstractly high.
Several of the looks, in black, baby pink, white and navy, had waists belted above the bust in an exaggerated Empire Line. AP